Get More Value from your University Degree
Every year, more and more graduates enter the job market. Thirty years ago, a bachelor’s degree was a safe path to a good job. Now postgraduate degrees have replaced the undergraduate degree as the base requirement for many jobs. With tuition fees rising and career prospects shrinking, many students are questioning their decision to study.
While a bachelor’s degree is still valuable for your CV, you might decide a better decision would be to gain workplace experience. But if you have already accepted an offer, are under pressure to go to university or simply want the experience, you may be worrying how to get the most out of these years. In order to make the most of university, it may be necessary to shift your mindset from the traditional values of a degree and focus on the value you are getting outside your study.
Your time at university is unique in that you are surrounded by peers who share a similar interest in your chosen subject. Now is the time to share your insights and questions, building relationships that can translate into job offers. University is the time you meet a lot of industry professionals before they get their break. Socialize with as many different people as possible, but make sure you aim for valuable interaction and save partying for recreation.
Discipline is a core skill employers demand. The ability to meet deadlines, achieve targets and buckle down to work can be tested in university with few of the major consequences that come with a career blunder. Set goals and hand in assignments on time, and soon it will become second nature.
In university you are surrounded by learning materials that may not be available in the outside world, such as journals which require a subscription. It is also unlikely you will ever again be in a place where all these subjects are under one roof, unless you are disciplined about using the Internet. Research topics that interest you deeply, attend other classes, and take advantage of any discounts on extra courses or core skills your university offers. Many universities offer part-time jobs taking notes for students who are unable to attend their lectures. This is a brilliant way to learn more while getting paid.
You will likely never again have two or three years set aside to pursue things that interest you with as few responsibilities as you have during university. Use this time to build a foundation of clear thinking, discover more things you like to do and realize your place in the world. Try everything that is offered, make as many friends as you can, and discard negativity whenever the opportunity arises. When you graduate, you will feel more grounded and certain about how to proceed.
Plan your future
Dream big. As well as getting to know yourself, university is the perfect time to find out where you want to go in life. University is a self-contained environment in which it is easy to set up societies, cottage industries (e.g., selling cakes or badges to raise funds), volunteer, find focus groups and question mentors. The subject you are studying may not be the career you enter into, so work out exactly what you enjoy doing and tailor your studies around it. Do not be afraid to ask to change courses if you feel it will benefit you.
University is a brilliant environment in which to experiment and test out all your ideas. It is important to realize you may not get your dream job, but hopefully now you will know how to focus on alternative ways to study and better yourself to make your university experience valuable nonetheless.
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